For the 2006 and 2007 seasons, I ushered Bills home games. Much like Marv Levy’s tenure as GM, I was out after two years, because my full time calling needed me a little more and when the losses mounted the fun disippated. The first season, I was stationed between the suites occupied by the families of Donte Whitner and Lee Evans who could not have been cooler and two car dealers who most certainly were not. You’re out of harm’s way. The biggest problem is that it can get a little dull once the game gets going, as the entrances to the suites didn’t face the field. 30 years after sixth grade, I was once again a hall monitor, but at least getting paid for it. There were a few nice unexpected perks. Mr. Evans always greeting me warmly and the Whitners always made sure I knew when the food arrived. I never wanted to impose but the invites were regularly issued. The car dealers? Well, they ordered a lot food and drank a lot, never shared or tipped and despite my giving a drunken buffoon the appropriate bum’s rush from their door, weren’t real polite.
I got involved in this for believe it or not, slightly romantic reasons. I think it is good for your soul to sometimes invest in something bigger than you. I liked being “backstage” as the stadium braced itself for a big day or night.
In 07, I started out and shot my mouth off a little and was placed between the two suites I’d worked last year, which meant instead of 40 people to see to, I got a couple thousand. It was an interesting mix, mostly season ticket holders to the left, and on the right, some season ticket holders and the folks who got their seats from the opposing team (oh, Joy). My friends from the suites would periodically come visit. I can still hear Donte’s mom hollering at opposing offenses to “throw it to Donte.” When they did, there were high-fives and hugs were the order of the day.
Entire sections would chat you up and you could have fun. Did I mention, now, I could see the game. While the night games were slightly more dramatic, the losses would sting. I didn’t have to imagine what it was like when the Browns beat the Bills on Monday night last year. I was there for the Cowboys loss the year before (And for the record, the Cowboys fans at my end were a lot nicer than some of the Bills fans). I would get a lot of the goofs who bought tickets in the family section, but come down to where we were to toss one or two back quickly. Given the beer when for $7 a cup, it amazed me to see how many people would throw large expensive quantities back (I mean it was only watered down Budweiser, for Pete’s Sake).
While it is reassuring to know as I stumble through middle age that I can come out on top in battling with drunken morons half my age or exchangin bon mots with the wisenheimers in section 126, it can get old. I hung in there until the Winter Classic and hit the proverbial wall. Something about the snow blowing in my face caused the whole thing to lose its luster and I hung up my windbreaker and suite wrist bands for good. If the hockey crowd could have been there on Sunday, I bet the ushers would have had an easier go of it. But given how fast the crowd can turn, I was a little sorry for the folks doing the aisle walks on Sunday. My mom mentioned something about being glad I’m out of there. Watching Sunday, so was I as that could not have been fun.
Be nice to the staff, they didn’t jump offsides all those times.